Navaratri (Dushera or Dasara) celebrations started today across India. The festival starts on the first day of Lunar month Ashvayuja (Ashwayuja), runs for nine nights and culminates on the tenth day of the month. While the main festival is celebrated on the eighth, ninth and tenth days; Maa Durga (Kali), the Goddess of Valor is worshiped during all the days of the festival.
Every year, Navaratri is celebrated with pomp and gaiety across India. In fact, different regions have different practices of celebrating the festival. Bengal is known for the Navratri celebrations. The last four days of the festival is celebrated in worshiping Durga across the community pandals set up in this part of the country.
Photo: Goddess Durga decorated as Shakambari.
In the western part of the country, Gujarat marks the celebrations with Garba (a group dance). Garba literally means the womb. As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga is the mother of all life in the universe, the source of all knowledge/wisdom. Durga creates and sustains the never ending cycle of life. To commemorate this, an earthen pot with a lamp inside it is kept on the ground and devotees dance around the earthen pot. The devotees form a chain/circle and dance to the rhythmic tunes. If you are in Gujrat, don’t miss an opportunity to be part of the Garba that happens on every evening of Navratri. If you are in Ahmedabad, National institute of Design (NID) is the place to be on the evening of the festival
Down South, the Navaratri is celebrated as Dasara. The Chamundeshwari Temple in Mysore and the Durga Temple in Vijayawada are famous worshiping places during the festival. Dasara festival of Mysore is a major tourist attraction, with the royal family of Mysore celebrating the event with great verve. The temple on serene Chamundi hills is the place to visit during the festival. Goddess Durga in the form of Chamundi killed demon king Mahisha (Mahishasura) here. Many in India know that Mysore gets its name from the demon king Mahisha. Mysore = Mahisha + Ore. “Ore” in Kannada is “town” – its something like Bangal’ore’
Andhra celebrates Dasara by worshiping Durga in various forms. Every day of the festival, one form of goddess Durga is worshiped. On the last Friday that comes in the ten days, Durga is worshiped in the form of Lakshmi (the lord of prosperity). On the day when Moon is in Mula (Moola) constellation, Durga is worshiped in the form of Saraswati (the Muse). The last three days are the main festival with 8th day celebrated as Durga Ashtami, 9th day as Mahar Navami, 10th day as Vijaya Dasami.
Up North, in Delhi, Dushera is concluded with the last day celebrated as the day of King Ram’s victory over Demon Ravana. The Ram Leela grounds in Delhi will have spectacular show of fireworks where an effigy of demon king Ravana will be burnt.
All in all, if you are visiting India during this time, make it a point to participate in the Navaratri festivities. It will be a memorable event for you.